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November 13, 2009
Blowfish in Fiction
The algorithm is mentioned in Von Neumann's War, by John Ringo and Travis Taylor.
The guy was using a fairly simple buffer overflow attack but with a very nice little fillip of an encryption packet designed to overcome Blowfish. The point seemed to be to create a zero day exploit, which he didn't have a chance of managing. So far, nobody had cracked Blowfish.
As far as he could tell, at first, it was a simple Denial of Service attack. A DoS occurred when... But this one was different. Every single packet contained some sort of cracking program ... Most had dumped to the honey trap, but they were running rampant through there, while others had managed to hammer past two firewalls and were getting to his final line of defense. Somebody had managed a zero day exploit on Blowfish. And more were coming in!
Posted on November 13, 2009 at 2:43 PM
• 30 Comments
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That second excerpt in particular ought to go to Thog's Masterclass.
(For those who don't know what Thog's Masterclass is: http://thog.org/)
There's a free copy of the book [url=http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/]here[/url], on the Eye of the Storm CD (and probably on other CDs, too, but that's the latest one with it). The quote's in chapter 24, if anyone has a burning desire to discover the context.
If the quote does give anyone a burning sensation, they should probably see a doctor about it...
The book itself is one hell of a good read. Majorly scary good read.
And there have been requests for a sequel. Just how DO you take down a network of Von Neumann machines?
*So far, nobody had cracked Blowfish*
Reminds me of what someone said at an IBM mainframe-security seminar a couple of decades back:
"We have never had an unidentified security-breach on our systems".
What you don't know is going on is what kills you.
From the SF I remember, the Culture reprogram them into an expanding swarm of hugbots that politely request spare resources for their replication, Warhammer 40,000 throws a few billion Imperial Guard at it and goes back to dealing with the bigger threats (or a bunch of Orks loot it an' make it proppa orky), and Star Wars writes a terrible Expanded Universe series of books about it.
I an't no English professor, but this is some really bad wording.
"Every single packet contained some sort of cracking program"
Unless they've got much larger MTUs that we normally see today, those must be awfully small cracking programs if they fit into a single IP packet.
"Every single sentence contained some form of buzzword..."
Oh, RS, that was quite unfair. This book is nowhere *near* as appalling as Ghost and its sequels; not even as appalling as the SS-venerating _Watch on the Rhine_. (How many copies did *that* sell in Germany, I wonder?)
Does Blowfish (or any other real cipher) ever get namechecked in fiction without getting broken? In Little Brother, maybe?
This is techo-peotry. Plausible sounding but technically unsound. Mike has pointed out 3 howlers.
What's more: "zero-day exploit to Blowfish" It was released 6 years ago. Bit late for a zero-day exploit...
Blowfish was released 16 years ago, not 6, and I don't think you understand what zero-day means. A zero-day exploit is an exploit that's released before the vulnerability it exploits is widely known. It has nothing to do with the release date of the targetted technology.
"but they were running rampant through there, while others had managed to hammer past two firewalls and were getting to his final line of defense. Somebody had managed a zero day exploit on Blowfish. And more were coming in!"
With all these blowing fish running rampant whilst hammering at walls of fire, I'm surprised there was not a "time to pull the plug and let the attack wash it's self out"
Ahh the endless fun that can be had from this.
It's time your cipher names evolved and crawled up the beach befor hitting the trees.
How about "LeapFish", "SoarTrout", "HopSkipper", "BogBreacher" "LoamCreeper", "RootLurker", "TrunkTransverser" and last but not least the real heavy weight "BoughBreaker" 8)
It has been pointed out to me that "leapfish" has been taken by some up and comming search engine (no I'd not heard of it either)
So I thoiught OK how about "jumpfish", a quick google and that had been taken.
So a quick look in a thesaurus and further googling shows that "*fish" is popular.
However it looks like "friskfish" and "vaultfish" are still available.
Which begs the question what is it with "fish"...
Go Fish. Bots come fishing, trying to byte. Blowfish puffs up and blocks the entrance.
My uninformed wag ... (g)
thanks for posting this - I'll be sure to add this book to my "don't bother reading" list... "honey trap"? seriously? *sigh* (it's honey pot...)
A "honey trap" in espionage (or at least in espionage fiction) is a woman, a.k.a. a "Venus trap", who seduces our hero and tries to steal his secrets during pillow talk. If you're a hack writer, cribbing bad cliches from wherever you can pick 'em up, it's probably easy to get your genres mixed.
(Oh, and by the way: when my father was stationed in Japan in the '40s, "honey pot" was what they called the big jars that carried s**t between chamber pot and farmer's field.)
In network security jargon a honey pot is a system that exists only to provide attackers with a target featuring known exploitable holes and no real data. It's usually a virtual machine with monitoring systems to analyze and track back hack attempts. The sourceforge "honeytrap" system mentioned above is one such monitoring system.
Yay for Hollywood Hacking!
Star-trek technobabble. Blowfish is the new deflector dish.
Attention, all wanna-be cyberpunk SF authors: repeat after me
" A network packet is not an intentional entity. "
If you get this wrong in your novels I will force you to write it out 100 times longhand, like the idiot children you obviously are.
This would be an example of what I call "Dan Brown Science" - to write a book where a major plot device is "foo", obtain several papers on "foo", search for interesting looking words or phrases the paper's writer appears to feel are important, then drop them liberally into any descriptions you might have to provide without any real understanding or desire to understand what they mean or what context they should be used in.
This is the same thing that got me as far as "rotating plaintext" in one book before it was flung violently at a wall at the far side of the room....
> This is the same thing that got me as far as "rotating plaintext" in one book before it was flung violently at a wall at the far side of the room....
I'm guessing it's too much to hope they were talking about ROT13 or the Caesar cipher...
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